Going bananas (or, Adventures of a very hungry toddler)
“I believe life is infused with magic. I believe in creativity and art as experiences of magic.”
– from a New York Times interview with Francesca Lia Block
When I was waiting for Lily to arrive, I spent a lot of time imagining what it would be like to cook for her. There’s something really rewarding about preparing food for those that you love, and I have really happy memories about the special meals (and even those that were monochromatic and not so fancy 🙂 ) that my mom regularly made when I was growing up. And although I’m not particularly creative or artistic in the traditional sense, the food enthusiast in me supports Block’s sentiment; there’s definitely something about heading into the kitchen with hope and a plan that feels pretty magical.
Fortunately, Lil’s transition from mushy meals to real food has been one of my very favorite things about this year; she has a hearty appetite and–for the time being–will eat just about anything. In the beginning it seemed really easy; I made sure that that I presented her with plenty of options, and she was happy with everything I placed on her little tray. I introduced new foods regularly, and made a point of creating meals that were balanced, brightly colored, and totally toddler friendly. Lately, however, I’ve been in a food rut; Lily’s meals, while still balanced, for the most part, have gotten pretty bland (yay, oatmeal!) and often all one color ( hello, cheese chunks, scrambled eggs and chopped mango…again). So this weekend, after finding an incredible-looking recipe for coconut banana quick bread (and remembering a certain first birthday party at which a little girl ate two huge slices of banana cake–one in each fist, as pictured above), I decided to try something new.
You see, I come from a very long line of very skilled banana bread bakers. Our trusty family recipe never fails and is dependably irresistable; it never survives in my house for very long. But in the name of trying new things, I opted to add coconut, omit sugar, and use spelt flour instead of wheat– and I decided to add a
cup handful of dark chocolate chips to half of the batter (for me– not Lily).
The result? A tender and slightly dense bread that’s aromatic and slightly nutty; sweet but not too sweet. In other words, I think it will be perfect for my tired-of-oatmeal toddler’s breakfast. I ate several test bites so as not to inadvertantly poison the baby, and after Lily inhaled three slices of her own morning, I’m pretty sure that she’s a fan as well.
One meal down, two–or five, depending on how hungry my insatiable Lily is feeling on this particular day– to go. And although she’ll probably be eating another all-orange meal again today… and probably tomorrow, as well, I’m hoping that we’re on the right track with this yummy (and possibly even magic-infused!) bread.
Coconut banana spelt bread (adapted from here: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/coconut-banana-bread-with-lime-glaze-10000001654705/print/)
- 2 cups spelt flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
- 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
- Cooking spray
- Dark chocolate chips, if you’re so inclined
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
Mix coconut oil, eggs, banana, yogurt, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Stir in 1/2 cup coconut. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
* I don’t have a 9×5 inch loaf pan, so I used 2 8×4 inch pans and just reduced the cooking time.